Singapore

Two men charged with cheating cruise company of $1.5m

A Frenchman and a Romanian may have got away with an alleged scam but for quick action by the police and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

It started with Oceanic Group, which has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, being duped into believing that someone in France wanted to buy one of its vessels.

Court documents did not provide details of the vessel or the deal.

The cruise and leisure company's founder and managing director, Mr Daniel Chui Mun Yew, travelled to France to close the deal.

By then Oceanic Group had already been paid a deposit.

Police said that while Mr Chui was there last week, Frenchman David Weidmann, 36 and Romanian Iosif Kiss, 39, allegedly turned up at the company's Singapore office to collect $1.5 million.

They said it was their commission for the deal. The transaction was authorised and the men walked out with the sum.

Around 20 minutes later, still in France, Mr Chui learnt that the deposit had been paid with counterfeit currency.

The police said: "At the time of the transaction in France, two men were in Singapore to collect a sales commission for the sale of the vessel.

"When the victim discovered the fraud, he immediately informed his Singapore office to stop the sales commission."

But Weidmann and Kiss had already left with the money.

Soon after a police report was made, officers from Clementi Police Division established the identities of the two men.

They then informed ICA and all exit points were alerted.

Within three hours of the police report, the two men were arrested at the Woodlands Checkpoint.

They are now remanded at the Central Police Division and facing one charge of cheating.

Yesterday, the court heard that $400,000 of the $1.5 million was recovered.

The two men will be back in court on Sept 11.

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